Politicians, journalists, and commentators have reacted strongly to the Canadian Press news agency’s choice of Luka Magnotta as Canadian Newsmaker of the Year.
Magnotta is accused of the grisly, sadistic murder last May of exchange student Lin Jun in Montréal. The crime made international headlines after Magnotta allegedly posted a video of the killing online, then mailed body parts to the headquarters of Canada’s Liberal and Conservative parties and two Vancouver-area public schools.
A former gay porn actor, stripper, and escort, Magnotta was arrested in a Berlin Internet café a few weeks after Lin Jun’s death. It is suspected that Magnotta had spent years cultivating an online presence with hundreds of social media profiles and faked photos. According to reports, Magnotta actively sought to link his name to that of convicted child murderer Karla Homolka in an attempt to increase his notoriety.
Initial press coverage dubbed Magnotta the “Canadian Psycho” and focused on the accused’s past as a dancer at Toronto gay strip club Remington’s, despite the accused’s near-invisibility in the Canadian LGBT community.
Reaction to the choice of Magnotta has been mixed. The CP Newsmaker is chosen by polling journalists and editors, many of whom have pointed out that the choice is not an award. However, as the Toronto Star’s senior writer in Ottawa, Susan Delacourt, wrote:
My objections to Magnotta as newsmaker aren’t personal — I recognize that egregious people make news and being a “newsmaker” isn’t necessarily a reward for good behaviour. But it seems to me that the biggest news of the year should somehow revolve around societal insights, not mere infamy.
Several politicians also took to Twitter to express their outrage, with Liberal leader Bob Rae tweeting that the choice was “a new low” for the Canadian Press.
Magnotta is set to appear in court for a preliminary hearing in March.